Q. I am a full-time student at university and I have two dependent children. I have applied for housing benefit to help with my rent, but my claim was refused.
When I have checked the letter I can see that they have taken my student loan into account when assessing my income.
Is this right, because it is money that I am going to have to pay back?
A. Both student loans and student grants are taken into account as income when assessing a Housing Benefit claim. Although the loan income is money which you will have to pay back, it is money that you are expected to use to support yourself throughout the course, so it is treated as income in the same way.
There are certain disregards which can be deducted from the loan or grant income and certain types of income, such as special support grants, parent learning allowances and childcare payments are generally ignored. Also, any amount that is paid for tuition fees is disregarded along with standard disregards for books and travel.
If you think that the income has been assessed incorrectly then you can dispute the decision by appealing in writing to the local authority. You may want to get some help from a benefits adviser to see how much Housing Benefit you may be entitled to (if any) to confirm whether an appeal is likely to be successful or not.
Q. I am a lone parent with two children. I am moving house next month and I am worrying about paying for a removal van and other expenses that I know will creep up.
I haven’t been able to save up as I only get Income Support and Child Tax Credit. Is there anything the Jobcentre can do to help me?
A. If you have been claiming Income Support for six months then you would be eligible to apply for a budgeting loan from the DWP Social Fund. A budgeting loan can be paid for removal expenses, furniture and household goods and clothes, etc. It is an interest-free loan from the DWP.
You cannot owe more than £1,500 to the Social Fund, and loans generally have to be repaid within two years. The lowest amount you can borrow is £100 and the most is dependent on your circumstances; £348 for single people, £464 for couples and £812 if you claim Child Benefit. You can apply for a budgeting loan online at www.gov.uk or by completing an SF500 form from Jobcentre Plus.